Minister orders imported 'garbage' shipped back to Australia
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa has ordered an importer to ship 130 tonnes of goods categorised as garbage back to Australia, a senior official said on Thursday.
Atthapol Charoenchansa, director-general of the Pollution Control Department (PCD), said Varawut gave the order after a joint inspection by his department and the Customs Department found that a recent import by Inter Pacific Paper Co Ltd contained “municipality garbage” instead of used paper as declared by the company.
The two departments jointly checked the consignments of Inter Pacific Paper at Laem Chabang Deepsea Port in Chon Buri province on Wednesday.
Inter Pacific Paper had declared that the goods were “waste paper-mixed paper” with the Customs code 4704.90.00.
But officials of the two departments opened all the containers and found that they contained pieces of used paper mixed with other rubbish objects, including cloth bags, food containers, face masks, napkins, spray cans, and medicine Ziplock bags, Atthapol said.
He said the paper waste included 20-30 per cent of other objects, so the shipment was classified by the Customs Department as municipality garbage under 3825.10.00 Customs code.
Atthapol said goods with the code 3825.10.00 were prohibited from being imported or even for transhipment via Thailand.
Atthapol said Varawut, who chairs the committee on plastic and electronic waste management, ordered the authorities to take legal action against Inter Pacific Paper for importing prohibited goods.
Atthapol said the PCD will coordinate with the Customs Department to order the importer to send the containers back to the country of origin as soon as possible.
Atthapol said his department would also seek cooperation from the Foreign Trade Department to inform Australian authorities about Thailand’s policy that prohibits import of municipality garbage.
The director-general said the PCD and Customs department have held a meeting with executives of Inter Pacific Paper and received a clarification from the firm.
Inter Pacific Paper explained that it had ordered paper waste from the seller with a condition that it must not have more than one per cent contamination with other types of garbage.
The goods were supposed to be used as raw material at a paper recycling plant in Ban Srang district in Prachin Buri province.
The company said it mostly used paper waste in the country and imported only 4 per cent paper waste. Other garbage types would be sorted out and sent as fuel to a cement plant, Inter Pacific Paper explained.
The company promised to better check its import shipments from the country of origin in future.